Uhtred: I was born an ealdorman of England, true heir to the Northumbrian lands of Bebbanburg. I was 12 years old when I first went to war. I saw my father killed. Stolen by the invaders, along with a Saxon girl, Brida, I became, first, a slave, and then, a son to Earl Ragner. Fate had made me a Dane, had made young Ragner my brother; and Brida, my lover. And then, fate brought betrayal.
Lies were thrown to the wind, saying I had killed Ragner, so, taking his hidden wealth, we fled south...
to Wessex, to Beocca, and to the King's brother Alfred.
Seen by the Danes as a Saxon and by the Saxons as a Dane, my word could not be trusted.
But I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred, and destiny is all.
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Stand clear. It is the King.
I have to speak, Lord.
The axe cut deep.
Even a King couldn't survive that wound.
We shall pray and we shall see.
[Suspenseful music plays]
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This is the best I could do without first speaking to Alfred.
I've brought food and ale and, more importantly, good news.
Alfred is dead?
He is alive and he is victorious.
We defeated the Danes.
Why is this good news?
Alfred acted upon your advice.
You share in his glory.
Then why is he caged and left to sh1t in the corner?
You call that glory?
Can she not hold her tongue for just one moment?
No, she cannot!
And she will not!
Keep your food! I don't want it!
I won't eat or drink until I'm set free!
Only Alfred can order your release!
I will speak with him!
You should spend this time, girl, to contemplate your improvement.
I will use this time to curse you.
Then do it.
Alfred refused my sword.
I won't be offering it again, unless he begs.
Lord, sometimes I wonder whether your pigheadedness is not simple stupidity.
He will send for you when he has scraped the mud and blood from his mail.
We will give thanks to Odin for our deliverance.
We are Danes!
Do it again, and I will cut you, prick to throat.
Alfred: What is it?
I couldn't wait to see you.
I was told you were safe, but I needed proof.
Here it is.
Leave us. My wife will help me.
Ensure it is repaired, and well.
I'd be a lost fool without you.
Fingers and thumbs.
[Knock at door]
My Lady, forgive me.
I was hoping for a moment to discuss the ealdorman Uhtred.
Father, forgive me, but my Lord is in need of rest.
Aethelwold, were you on the hill?
I didn't see you.
I was kept safe with priests.
There will be other battles.
And on and on it will go, I'm sure, 'til we're all dead.
Are you saying we should surrender?
But I'm not against compromise.
As much as I love my God, I'm in no hurry to reach heaven.
I fear no number of kneeling clergymen will change what a heathen's axe has already decreed.
Our prays should be with the King's successor, whoever that may be.
The crown is mine, my birthright.
The argument against you will be that you're a young Lord. I am my father's heir.
Yes, you are your father's heir, but your father was also bonded to Alfred.
A son comes before a brother.
Then, perhaps, you should speak to the King directly.
'Tis my thinking, Lord, that if, on his deathbed, your father were to name you as his successor, the witan would find it difficult to go against him.
I believe your father would only be too happy to whisper in your ear.
Whether he was conscious or not.
Your counsel will not be forgotten, young Odda.
Thank you, Lord.
You went into battle without me.
Why was that?
That was not the intention.
Is that so?
Then why did it happen?
Let's talk inside.
We will talk here.
They marched sooner than we expected and they positioned themselves well on the hill.
It will not happen again.
No, it will not happen again, because you have lost half your men.
We killed their King, Aethelred.
Did you see him fall?
Yeah, I saw him fall.
He took an axe.
He's dead. We were not beaten.
Hmm, you want to become King of Wessex.
I will allow that.
But where's my payment, my silver, my grain?
It was promised, but now it has gone.
It's still there.
Danes do not lose.
I am not lost.
You have given them hope, Guthrum, that is worse.
Without their King, there is no hope.
If they've defeated the Danes, which I won't believe, why aren't they feasting?
The priest doesn't lie.
Despite him being a priest.
Why are they so different, so miserable?
God's wish. [Chuckle]
I won't become a Saxon woman.
I won't wash, work the fields 'til I drop, and cook. It won't come to that.
That won't be my life.
Alfred can help us.
We'll use him [Keys jingle] for shelter, and then for wealth.
He has used you.
And, now, he owes me.
My thanks for last night.
Open the door. I wish to see my father.
Open the door, or I'll have your balls for slingshot.
I'm here to pray for my father, the King, to be at his side.
The King is dead.
Why was I not called?
I should have been at his side.
You could not be found.
I was sleeping in my chamber.
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[Bell jingles softly, men whisper]
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Before he passed, the King named me as heir to the throne.
That's what he told me.
It's the truth.
His last wish.
His last command.
You would all do well to repeat this.
I'll inform the witan of your claim.
Although each person here, and more, heard your father bequeath his crown to Alfred.
He must have been delirious. [Scoff]
On which occasion?
I am the son of the King.
Do your duty.
Please accept my apology for the delay in your release.
I had other matters to attend.
And for our guests.
It seems you spoke the truth.
Though I realize our victory is temporary, I am indebted.
Wessex is indebted.
Is my apology enough?
It's not, Lord.
What Uhtred means is that it is not necessary.
I wish to be seen as an ealdorman, because I am an ealdorman.
In Northumbria. This is Wessex.
This is England.
One kingdom is what you said.
You are without lands completely.
And that's what I want.
That's what I deserve, land.
I brought you here solely to convey my thanks, but we shall talk further, at some point.
Now, I have other, more important, matters to attend.
I gave you victory, Lord.
What's more important than that?
The King is dead.
I have not long left him.
My first act as King will be to offer the Danes a peace.
They will think you spineless.
Then I must convince them otherwise.
Girl, bring some fruits to my chamber, some chopped apples and milk.
Rest, wash, eat well.
You have earned it.
What are you saying?
You do not speak to a future King in that manner.
He's not my Lord and he won't be my King.
Hear me clearly, Uhtred.
Alfred is the man to follow.
He is your way back to Bebbanburg, as Lord and Master.
Uhtred's path is Uhtred's business, not that of a priest.
Forgive me, Lord.
I must leave, to pray for strength and to expunge these unholy thoughts that fill my mind.
You want land in Wessex?
It's my way back to Bebbanburg.
Any silver you find under Alfred will be taken by the Danes.
Along with your life.
They can't be beaten.
Excuse me, my Lord.
I am on an errand to my Lord Alfred.
The milk is for Alfred?
Not a word.
Master Aethelwold, the man-child who would have himself be King.
Out of respect for the late King, Alfred wishes no harm to be done to a hair of your ugly head.
But he will not put up with your insolence and lies.
Your own son is party to my so called insolence.
Don't you involve others in your conspiracies.
My head is not ugly.
You're to be sent to Hampton, to a monastery, to be educated.
It will be a very long process.
I am the King's son!
Wessex cannot afford division.
Nor can it afford the ramblings of an idiot child, noble or otherwise.
See to it.
May I make him docile, Lord?
I wish you would.
No. No, no, no, no, no!
Lord, you wish to see me.
I did. I did.
You will take a message to Guthrum, to the Danes.
You will invite them to negotiate, within days, but at their own convenience.
I shall gladly be your representative, Lord.
Do I offend you, watching you?
No, my Lord, never.
I will defend you with my life.
You stand as everything that is precious.
You are Wessex, England, always to be cherished, never to be violated.
Only to be loved.
[Knock at door]
Who is it?
My Lord, would you care to join me in prayer, perhaps for the passing of the King?
I will, father.
I give you my thanks.
Forgive me, my Lord.
The milk has soured.
I am tired of milk and apples.
I need meat.
But you are a martyr, my Lord, to meat.
My Lord needs feeding.
My Lord is not a Saint, and never shall be.
I have survived battle.
I need meat.
We shall pray together, my Lord, for strength.
Why does it have to be a sin?
Already, it is a burden.
It seems never to be about what I would wish to do.
It is about what I must do.
Ask God to give me the strength to wear the crown as well as you.
[Melancholy tune plays]
Father Beocca, a moment.
Uhtred may well have a use.
Pleased that is what you think, Lord.
This Brida, she's what, to him?
I would say a hindrance, Lord.
No, no, never, no.
She is restless.
She's the devil on his shoulder, I fear.
But he is fond of her.
Yes, that is his way.
We shall see.
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I carry a message from King Alfred.
Who is King Alfred?
He is Alfred, King of Wessex.
He invites the Earl Guthrum to negotiate a peace.
Get down from your horse, boy.
You are a beauty.
Tell this King...
What was his name?
Tell King Alfred that Guthrum accepts his invitation and I shall watch for him and I shall ride out and meet him.
I will pass on your message, Lord.
This horse belongs to me now.
Uhtred, Alfred is keen to find a use for you, but Brida is...
She's not a help.
Well, perhaps you could just keep her away from me.
Alfred knows how I can be of use.
Uhtred... and I've proven it.
Now, he must prove he can be of use to me.
He will be King.
And you can serve him.
I'm here to serve myself.
Alfred means nothing to me but a path to take back what's rightfully mine, my land, my wealth, and my title.
He will have a use for me, but I'll have a use for him.
Do not think him naive.
He will see right through you.
He will see what I allow him to see.
You looking for company, girl?
I prefer the company of the Gods to stupid men.
Another time, then.
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Good morning, Uhtred.
Good morning, Lord.
That's a fine coat of mail.
It is, and it is yours, the battle dress of a Saxon warrior.
In return for what?
There's always a price.
Which you have paid in full our victory at the hill.
Young Odda, have you offered your apologies to Uhtred?
My sincere apologies.
You spoke the truth.
A small bow, perhaps?
You may leave us now.
A good King relies upon good advice, Uhtred.
For example, my nephew Aethelwold, the King's son, he is young, but sees himself as the rightful heir.
How am I to deal with him?
You should kill him, Lord.
As my own uncle Aelfric would kill me.
Not to kill him shows weakness.
You're being insolent.
I will allow it.
It is the pagan in him speaking.
You think like a Dane, Uhtred.
If I kill Aethelwold, I am admitting he has legitimate claim to the throne, which he does not. That is how I think.
But to have a specimen of the heathen mind in council will be useful.
What do they fear most, the Danes?
They're warriors. They live to fight.
But when they lose, as at the hill, what then?
In battle, they'd rather retreat than lose too many men, so, if they fear anything at all, it's losing men.
They love to fight, but hate to lose?
Hardly a revelation.
Odda appears not to value your council.
I do not.
I care not.
I have been thinking on your request to be recognized as an ealdorman.
Which is a nonsense.
I am an ealdorman.
Without even a goat to your name, never mind the land to graze it.
I am an ealdorman by birth. Would you perhaps consider becoming an ealdorman by marriage?
I know of a marriage that would being you land and title.
I have no need of a wife, Lord.
A woman helps you grow. Grow old.
Grow roots, and that is what you are missing.
Marriage would show your commitment to Wessex.
I have shown commitment.
You've said yourself I gave you victory at the hill.
You helped, Uhtred, but the victory was won by the men of Wessex.
Whom you now refuse to join through this marriage.
Land and silver is what all men desire and I'm no different.
But believe me, Lord, I have no need of a wife.
My sword is yours.
At a price.
Everything that I have has been taken from me.
I need title.
I need to make my wealth.
Are you offering me your sword or are you selling me your sword?
To become an ealdorman, you must possess land.
That is the law.
However, stand at my side during the negotiations ahead, help me read my enemy, and, in return, we shall talk further of wealth and reward.
Well, what did you see?
Hmm? What did they show you?
What I saw is my business.
Ah! I feel unwell.
Where we find ourselves is fate.
The work of the three spinners, they sit deep in this earth beneath us and they've brought us here.
We should go.
To Cornwalum, Wales, Ireland... anywhere.
I saw Ragnar's ship.
No, wind viper.
I was there, on the ship.
I saw it.
I want to leave here.
Come with me.
Come with me.
I've given a promise to Alfred.
To attend the negotiations, to advise.
Brida, there's no place else for us to go.
We cannot stay here.
It's a beginning.
We cannot wander the country and do nothing.
How can you trust him?
How do you know he won't simply turn you over to Guthrum to pass on to Ubba?
You know nothing about him.
I trust father Beocca and Beocca is his priest.
I said, "leave me."
You were not on the ship with me!
Go to Alfred and I will watch him betray you.
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So, what do we know of this Alfred?
That he's sickly.
He wants to negotiate.
Turns out that he's no warrior.
But he beat you, Guthrum.
So, what does it say?
We will take his silver.
And his land.
And if he refuses?
He will never refuse.
He wants to live and he wants to be called King.
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[Pendulum rings faintly]
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Our God in His heaven, we ask You to find favor with your devoted servant Alfred.
Bless him with courage, strength, and wisdom.
Never leave his side.
Allow him pure and holy thoughts and the power to carry out your work on this earth as our King.
Allow this anointing of Alfred to enable your will.
You are God's King, Alfred of Wessex.
Vivat Rex Alfredus!
All: Vivat Rex Alfredus! Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus! Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus! Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus! Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus.
I can't imagine a time without you.
Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus. Vivat Rex Alfredus.
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It is Guthrum?
You can see a bone in his hair.
It's his mother's rib.
And the others?
It's Ubba. The big man.
The chieftain Ubba is with him?
You said he was in the north.
Now, he's here.
This is good.
Guthrum: So you are Alfred, the King of Wessex?
You are Earl Guthrum?
If you want peace, you have to pay.
And you are the Earl Ubba.
In exchange for an agreed amount of grain, livestock, and silver, I propose that you and your ships return to London and remain there.
I further propose that you confine yourselves to east Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria.
Wessex is Saxon, and, as such, out of bounds to all Danes.
We'll not be leaving Wessex.
We only just arrived.
Then you will starve.
You have little food, no shelter, and a weakened army.
If you believe us weakened, why seek peace?
It is the Christian in me.
The will of my God.
Oh, I'll hear no talk of Gods.
There is only one.
You will talk of grain, horses, silver, and land.
I will not talk of land.
What do they write?
They write what we speak.
Yes, every word.
Then may I say arse, tits, hump, and turd?
They record history.
We are here creating history.
People will read of this very meeting.
I'm waiting to hear the terms of your surrender.
You will be paid for your return to London.
There are no more terms, and there will be no surrender.
Guthrum here will not leave Readingum.
And I say again he will starve.
We will raid. We will kill.
And you will lose yet more men.
Is that your wish, Earl Guthrum, to lose men?
Your surviving warriors may look to find a new Lord.
Did you call the meeting to insult me?
I offer peace and I offer facts.
His head, and you can have your peace.
Nothing to say?
I'll speak to young Ragnar.
No other Dane has my respect.
His head for peace.
You want Uhtred here for peace?
No silver, no grain, no horses?
We want silver... and the traitor's head.
These are the terms. And you, Alfred, [scoff] You may remain King, but we will occupy all of the Saxon forts.
If you wish to occupy the fortresses, then do it, take them.
How many have you taken, to date?
Father, how many have they taken to date?
We can take all fortresses at any time!
We have taken the whole of England!
And we can do the same with Wessex.
Let me be clear.
I am prepared to return to the sword... we outnumber you, we are many, and we are dangerous...
But I would prefer to establish a peace.
And Uhtred here shall keep his head, but I will pay you well to leave Wessex.
That is what people will read.
That Alfred sought peace.
Alfred paid Lords Ubba and Guthrum in silver, in exchange for peace.
It is I who is seeking an end to the fighting.
That is what will be written.
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I would never have given you up to Ubba.
But the thought did cross your mind, Lord.
The fact is I would like you to swear an oath on holy relics... a year's service.
During which time, you will help my warriors understand that the heathens are but men.
And, in return and in time, you shall have your own reward...
Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
For the King.
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They have been halted, but nothing more.
They are not defeated.
Our task, now, is both simple and impossible... we determine what they will do next.
They will do what Danes always do, attack.
How, where, when, how many?
We're supposed to be celebrating a peace.
Do we have to talk of fighting?
We do, my dear, because the peace will not last.
It'll take them at least a year before they can gather a second great army.
Do I have your word?
Is there any meat here?
Should she even be here?
Brida's my guest.
You should've taken up the King's offer of a wife.
What happens next, I believe, is that they will come by land and sea.
They will split our army in two, possibly more.
Now, Uhtred may be correct, this may not occur for a year, or more, but what is clear is that we need ships.
We are bordered by water, but, yet, we have so few ships.
You'll not get me on a ship.
I volunteer my son.
To save our shores, we have to look beyond them.
And to serve God, His word must travel.
Amen. Praise Him.
Uhtred, the beasts on the prows of the Danes' ships, they are a... representation of their Gods?
No, Lord, they're just beasts.
They can be lifted from their posts, so not to frighten the spirits of the land.
"Spirits of the land." [Chuckle]
I would like to know why some of them make their own teeth into points.
They do that?
God save us.
To show that they aren't afraid.
If they can inflict such pain on themselves, think what they might do to a Saxon.
We will understand them more by the day, I'm sure.
Uhtred of the Danes has promised me a year of his service.
Is that so?
It will be his responsibility to show our warriors how the Danes approach battle, the construction of their shield wall, wall and the like.
Lord, if I may, the arseling here is barely a man and you expect him to teach me how to fight?
Leofric, I expect him to teach you nothing.
Whip him with staves, in practice, by all means.
Thank you, Lord.
But, our lesser men, if they can know what the Dane knows, fear can be expelled with knowledge, regardless how sharp their teeth.
You didn't eat tonight.
I'd only throw it up.
It starts with a year and becomes a lifetime.
And he offered you a wife.
I have no need of a wife.
Instead, you swore an oath to kill Danes.
You know my reasons.
We've been living in a palace.
What happens if you find yourself facing young Ragnar, in battle?
Where is she?
I haven't heard her all morning.
She will not be far.
Well, we're about to leave.
Yeah, I can see.
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Almost a child.
That you were carrying.
You didn't see it in your dreams, when you drank the mushroom ale?
I'll bury it.
We'll bury it.
It's a sign of a passing.
Look them in the eye.
Closer together, unbreakable.
Are we ready?!
We hammer them with our shields.
They're our defense and our weapon.
We knock them off their feet.
We're a wall!
Before the two walls meet, the first three rows of men act together to create a tall shield wall.
First row crouches lower, protecting the lower body and legs.
The second row reaches forward, protecting the upper body.
The third row leans in, protecting the head.
Four rows of men.
I like it, arseling.
Now, kill the b*st*rd.
The wealth isn't mine.
Belongs to Lord Ragnar, the Fearless.
You will do well to leave me alone.
Are you Brida?
What of her?
I'm no seer, but I'd say she's unhappy.
She prefers the company of Danes to Saxons.
Nothing wrong in that.
She's been with the wrong Saxons.
Danes have a hunger for life.
Don't we all?
Alfred... he's serious.
A pious b*st*rd.
Dislike him, by all means, but never underestimate him.
He is ruthless.
And, the man thinks.
Which is more than you or I could do.
Leofric the warrior.
May I sit with you?
No, you may not.
Do the monks know you're missing?
Uhtred, this is Aethelwold, another arseling.
Nephew of the King.
No, I am not the nephew of the King.
I am the King.
But Alfred likes to pretend and every b*st*rd appears to be happy with the lie.
What are we talking about?
Mm. He will not allow me to fight.
Have I told you that?
Well, it's true. He will not allow me to fight.
What I ought to do is slit his gizzard.
Say that to anyone but me, boy, and you'll be hanged.
You are hurting royalty.
You're lucky Alfred hasn't had you killed.
God will not allow him.
I like God.
You're leaving me.
Are you drunk?
Maybe a little.
We'll give the silver to young Ragnar.
We can tell him the truth.
And we can join Ragnar and his men.
I need men bound to me by God, by duty, by the land, by Wessex itself.
I would again like to put to Uhtred the prospect of marriage.
To my goddaughter?
To Mildrith, yes.
Well, it would certainly bind him to the land and, indirectly, to the church, to God.
It would test him.
You would be in favor, still?
Anything for Wessex.
Uhtred Ragnarson is a good man to be.
Look at me.
You owe Alfred nothing.
To him, your word means nothing.
You're a pagan.
Uhtred Ragnarson can never become Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
Did you kill my father?
You need to ask?
Did you kill my family?
I'm speaking with Uhtred.
I won't ask a second time.
If you believe that I would kill our father, our mother, and our family... take your revenge.
I knew it. [Panting]
I had to be sure. I knew it.
[Sniffle] It was Kjartan.
Kjartan attacked and set the fire.
If we could have saved them, we would have.
I knew it.
I didn't believe a word I was hearin'.
We have Ragnar's wealth.
We kept it for you.
Fully grown woman now.
I've seen this moment in my dreams so many times.
So Kjartan's story is that the English rose against our father, encouraged by you.
He claims to have revenged himself for the killers.
Did you ever believe him?
But he is Lord Kjartan now.
He has three times the men.
And the ear of Ubba.
When I kill him, it will need to be planned.
When we kill him.
It will be dangerous.
It must be done.
Ragnar, we're with you.
Then you will sail with me?
I've sworn to Alfred.
It means nothing.
Well, if you have sworn, then you must keep your word.
I need this revenge like I need water.
When the time is right, I swear, I'll be with you.
I can't believe I'm about to let you go, lose you.
You've been half my life.
All of my madness.
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I take it she has gone, then.
I'm guessing that it's Alfred that kept you here.
I sold myself.
For a mail coat and helmet.
That's what we do, we sell ourselves.
This year, what you're giving to Alfred, it's not about a mail coat.
It's about you.
The b*st*rd thinks, didn't I say?
He wants more than a year's service.
He wants you to help take back England.
All of England.
Of course, when the year's up, you could go back to the Danes.
That would at least give me the chance to kill ya.
But what would you be?
Who would you be?